Gaspar Astarita

musician of first level, he was definitively influenced by two tango schools of marked individuality and deeply rooted in popular taste, those led by Alfredo Gobbi and Osvaldo Pugliese.

But, this marked canyengue model with an evolved style suitable to dancing could have led him to imitation, bur far from that, this excellent instrumentalist honestly thought, and so he demonstrated, that between those two esthetic positions, so perfectly evidenced, his own trend would be possible, and so it turned out. The times he played with his own outfit he showed his personal definition in style.

He boasted a kind of tango with pleasant and special rhythmical beat that was linked, immediately, to the avant-garde conception, with a permanent interplay of canyengue figures. A tango lineage with gaunt, dense background, dragged at times, by the permanent and tight use of the double bass next to the low register of the string section. And all them, with prudent accentuation, amalgamating with the pianist’s left hand, that reminisced at times the musician who contributed that rich and new bass accentuation: Orlando Goñi.

And the pushful bandoneon of the leader, personal and vigorous, driving the group behind him. So we have, to prove it, the admirable rendering of his own tango, “Solfeando”, played by the orchestra he put together in 1965, that ratifies undoubtedly this pondering of his peculiar style.

He was born in Buenos Aires. He studied bandoneon with Joaquín Clemente and, later, harmony and counterpoint with maestro Julián Bautista.

Before 1940, and without disregarding his studies, he began to work professionally as accompanist of soloist singers. Soon thereafter he joined the orchestras led by Antonio Rodio and Juan Canaro.

In 1942, he switched to the Alfredo Gobbi Orchestra. In this aggregation he began to develop his future and personal style and to stand out as leader in the bandoneon section. It was in this orchestra where he, all of a sudden, found the musical language he was identified with.

With Gobbi he started at the venue Sans Souci with the following line-up: Toto D'Amario, Deolindo Casaux, Tito Rodríguez and himself on bandoneons; Alfredo Gobbi, Bernardo Germino and Antonio Blanco on violins; Juan Olivero Pro on piano; Juan José Fantín on double bass, and the singers Walter Cabral and Pablo Lozano.

His tenure with this group was until 1951 and by that time he released one of his most lasting pieces: “Entrador”, a beautiful instrumental tango of danceable style. It was recorded by the Gobbi’s orchestra and by Osvaldo Pugliese.

By the end of that year he formed his own orchestra: Mario Demarco, Alberto Garralda, Ernesto Rodríguez (Tito) and Ricardo Varela (bandoneons); Luis Piersantelli, Antonio Blanco, José Singla and Jorge González (violins) —also on some occasions José Carli and P. Cabrera—; Ernesto Romero (piano), Luis Adesso (double bass) and the vocalists Jorge Sobral and Raúl Quirós.

He appeared at the dance room Casanova, at balls and at other night venues. He committed to record 18 numbers for the Pathé label.

He was warmly welcomed by the connoisseurs but with the popular audiences did not understand him. He had to disband his orchestra in the mid- 1953. He joined the Julio De Caro Orchestra that same year and, in the early 1954, don Julio said adieu, so then a prestigious squad of bandoneons disbanded: Carlos Marcucci, Marcos Madrigal, Mario Demarco, Alfredo Marcucci, Alberto Garralda and Arturo Penón.

In June he joined the Osvaldo Pugliese’s orchestra to replace Jorge Caldara who had quit. He also had to work as arranger and wrote for that group several charts that ratified his musical personality. Serafín Magna, spokesman of the orchestra, commented his arrival: «No one better than Demarco to fill the place in the bandoneon section because his ductility as player is well-known, and he also will reiforce the staff of orchestrators comprised by Pugliese, Balcarce and Peppe».

With that orchestra, he premiered another of his best tangos: "Pata ancha", recorded in Odeon -on May 13, 1957-, in an unsurpassable arrangement of his own and, curiously, on that recording session Osvaldo Pugliese was absent. He was replaced by Osvaldo Manzi. He as well wrote the arrangements of "Suipacha", "Emancipación" and "Quejumbroso".

In 1959, he split with Pugliese because the orchestra had a tour of China and the Soviet Union, but Demarco was unable to travel because his wife was ill. Julián Plaza replaced him. Late that year he was performing and was arranger for the orchestras headed by Raúl Lavié and Héctor Stamponi.

Furthermore he composed: "Sensitivo", together with Máximo Mori; "Aquella deuda" and "Pavada", with lyrics by Julio Camilloni; "Astillas", lyric by Jacinto Alí; "Sin un adiós", with Reinaldo Yiso; "Para Pirincho", with Santiago Adamini and "Barro y asfalto", with Jorge Sobral and Roberto Vilar.

Between 1960 and 1963, he formed some groups to accompany singers, among them: Edmundo Rivero, (Philips Records), Argentino Ledesma (Odeon) and Jorge Sobral (Columbia).

In 1964, Alfredo Gobbi put together his aggregation again and summoned him. They made their debut on Patio de Tango, switched to Sans Souci and appeared on Radio Splendid. By that time he premiered his most representative tango: "Solfeando". But this new stage of Gobbi ended that same year.

Always in 1964 he switched to the orchestra led by Joaquín Do Reyes. The bandoneon section was lined up by Máximo Mori, Mario Demarco, Santiago Cóppola and Antonio Marchesse; on piano was Carlos Parodi, Osvaldo Monteleone on double bass and the violinists Roberto Guisado, Aquiles Aguilar, José Nieso and Claudio González with Ricardo Aguilar on vocals.

In August 1965, he put together his own orchestra with new members, nearly all unknown for the big tango billboards, plus the valuable contribution of Roberto Guisado on violin. For the Solfeando label he cut 4 instrumentals -with an impeccable interpretation: "Solfeando", "Sensitivo", "A San Telmo" and "Muy picante", plus 4 pieces with vocals by Marcelo Soler and Jorge Román.

All his vigorous artistic personality is evidenced on those recordings: his Decarean background, the influence of Gobbi and Pugliese, his musical knowledge, his interpretive strength -dancing and ad lib-,and the vehement player, marking his unmistakable canyengue to the orchestra, or phrasing from his bandoneon, tenderly and with emotion.

After this experience that failed he again accompanied singers, doing his best. In 1966 he released a record with Rodolfo Lesica, which has two standouts: "Destellos" and "Quiero verte una vez más".

The following year he appeared at the cheap inn Ernesto, on Corrientes and Gallo -in the heart of El Abasto-, forming a trio with Norberto Ramos on piano and Enrique Maldonado on bass, backing a real legion of singers each night. He again accompanied Edmundo Rivero in a recording session.

In 1968, still in activity but with noticeable ups and downs, he began to cut a record accompanying the singer Gerardo Mancini. But he only recorded the half of it. He had been having heavy pains in one of his hands for some time. It was a warning of a grave illness that was detected later. The quick and unfavorable evolution of the illness forced the amputation of his left hand.

Death caught him unexpectedly having a coffee at the tearoom El Águila, next door to SADAIC. It was a heart attack.

It occurs to me, to end this brief portrayal, that some lines by Julio Camilloni are suitable: «Star that is turned out suddenly and painfully... Pushful bandoneon in every orchestra and orchestrator of tango, tango and tango».